In my company I have to work with some "complicated" employees. From one side, they are the type it takes more time than expected to deliver a task or frequently complain about it. When we talk about it, they say "I am not motivated with this". Which I do not like it, since from my point of view, when you sign a contract, you say you agree to do the work, regardless of your motivation or other psychological reasons. Here, I can not say "You just must do it" or "It is in your contract", since I want to be polite and more important, have a good ambient at work. How do you suggest with this kind of workers?

PS: I lead a group of workers and some of these workers are friends of mine

  • What's the job they're supposed to do?
    – Erik
    Oct 25, 2016 at 5:32
  • 4
    why are they unmotivated? what caused them to become that way? Oct 25, 2016 at 5:35
  • 3
    Are you their supervisor? If not, what is the impact on you/your work if they don't do their job?
    – user45590
    Oct 25, 2016 at 6:44
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    Not seeing a useful question. Why is this your problem? Why do you care? What do you actually want as an outcome? We've had a number of questions on this topic already, most are closed as rants.
    – Lilienthal
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:23
  • I have updated the question. I think it is a good idea to monitor performance, I need to find a way to do it. Currently I focus on working on some projects and forcing to get the deadlines Oct 25, 2016 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


If you are their superior then there is nothing you can do if you don't want to discipline them. You have failed in your role. Perhaps seek new employment is your best option, best for the company anyway.

Any leader who will not use discipline when it is necessary is a waste of money. Telling a boss that they basically can't be bothered doing the work properly deserves disciplinary action.

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    @dan1111 I do, hopefully it will wake the OP up before he's facing disciplinary action himself for failing in his role. Because that's totally on the cards. His boss 'Why isn't the work being done?', him 'My team can't be bothered'. His boss 'What did you do about it? Him 'I don't want to upset them.' His boss 'What do I pay you for? Him 'Dunno.' etc,.
    – Kilisi
    Oct 25, 2016 at 7:04
  • Fair enough, I see your point. Removed my down vote.
    – user45590
    Oct 25, 2016 at 7:09
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    Yes, I agree that at the end, I am forced to use discipline Oct 25, 2016 at 20:48

Here, I can not say "You just must do it" or "It is in your contract", since I want to be polite and more important, have a good ambient at work.

You are not there to be their friend. If motivating the team to do the job willingly has failed, and it genuinely is a case of unwilling employees (i.e. there aren't any underlying problems which you can resolve), it is your job to politely but assertively instruct them about what their responsibilities are, and that there are consequences for refusing their responsibilities. If you can't bring yourself to be assertive without being impolite or aggressive then management is not for you.

  • "If you can't bring yourself to be assertive without being impolite or aggressive then management is not for you." You can assert yourself without being impolite or aggressive e.g. "I'll have to sunset your employment with us, SIR!" (it's all in the tone of voice) The idea is to be firm and to firmly lay out the employee's responsibilities in a way that leaves no room for ambiguities and to lay out what's going to happen if the employee fails. I have no idea what official authority the OP has over the employees and until he does, I won't provide an answer. Oct 25, 2016 at 17:19
  • I have updated the question. I lead the group of workers and some of them are friends of mine. I agree that at the end I will start to increase my tone, but I was just trying to avoid that first, in order to avoid problems with my friendship Oct 25, 2016 at 20:46
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    there aren't any underlying problems which you can resolve i'd say if a whole team are unmotivated, there are underlying problems.
    – Walfrat
    Oct 25, 2016 at 21:10

Okay, let's have a picture in here.

Motivation is not key source in doing a job, just as recreation does not involve restoration of work-related motivation. Motivation has bigger part at the employee, and smaller part at employer/manager. Both sides are stakeholders. At interview it is a plus if the applicant is highly motivated, but if he can do the job, he will be still a valued asset for the company.

Finishing a job, task, project late means difficulties. It needs a good understanding of processes, observation, people skills to do a good snapshot analysis to find blockages, rough points, and must be aware that the team is always having a momentum. Any low or high it is, their performance is a dynamicly changing output to better or worse direction. Reasoning with lack of motivation is an excuse. Without a doubt. It still does not mean it is by bad intention. If project issues are typically from a category, which never gets Action Point, none of the stakeholders do anything about it, or existing without resolution or workaround, but bothering the workers, it will generate frustration, and who does not quit, will be worn.

Suggestion: Go with them, get a picture what they are doing (and how), measure with good sense if it's ok by the standard that the company keeps, and if not, drive changes. Change people, habits, environment, tools, energy of the place,...or even the standard. If you are positive about that you provide them the minimum reasonable, optimally decent environment, and they show no performance change, it is time for discipline and regulations. Then change of people.

  • I agree totally that when the employee sings the contract, the motivation then is taken for granted. And yes, I will try to figure out how to drive changes in the environment, that way they will also realize they are not working properly, I hope Oct 26, 2016 at 19:50

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